Sunday, August 12, 2007

Observing Nature 

I live in coastal San Diego County, and our lot backs up against open space, which is populated by all kinds of wildlife, some of which invade our yard. We have rabbits dining on our lawn and shrubbery morning and night, and voles occasionally do the same. We've had a 4-foot king snake visit, and once we had a young owl perch on our upstairs deck rail a few mornings. Quail drop in once in a while. Coyotes patrol the canyon and occasionally wake us up in the wee hours as they celebrate a kill. One of the neighbors claims he saw a bobcat a few years back. Hawks and other raptors abound, and vultures wheel high overhead.

Last Wednesday my wife was talking on the phone right around sunset, and she went into our living room because it was quieter. "Come here, quick!" she called. I went into the living room and looked out the window where she was pointing. There, not ten feet on the other side of the glass, on top of the block wall that separates our yard from our neighbor's, was a hawk dismantling and devouring a mourning dove. I'm not a birder and I don't have a field guide in the house, but after researching a bit I think it most likely that the bird was a Cooper's hawk. I called our 14-year-old daughter and her reaction was, "Oohhh, sick!" (That expression meaning something like "neato" did when I was her age.) She watched for about 15 minutes, at which time the hawk flew away with the remains of its catch.

It was one of the occasions that makes me feel so lucky to live here.

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